TAMPA – When the University of South Florida hired Mark Harlan as its new athletic director, someone asked how USF was positioned for potential conference realignment.
Harlan’s answer was swift – and on the mark.
“We’re in a conference right now and we need to worry about winning everything in that conference,’’ Harlan said. “...When that happens, if change happens, we’ll be right there on the forefront.’’
Obviously, as USF completes its first year in the American Athletic Conference, the revenue sports will define the school’s athletic future. The Bulls have never won a conference title in football in 11 league seasons. In men’s basketball, there has been just one conference championship – in 1990, the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
But any conference title is significant, so it was a special Sunday when USF’s men’s and women’s tennis teams captured AAC championships.
At Tampa, Agustin Moreno’s women’s team (18-3) defeated Houston 4-2 and finished 13-0 at home. At Memphis, Tenn., Matt Hill’s men’s team (18-6) downed home-standing Memphis 4-3, getting a comeback victory from No. 2 singles player Oliver Pramming to break a 3-3 tie.
With the men’s soccer championship in the fall, USF has three AAC titles.
USF won just six conference titles during eight seasons in the Big East: women’s tennis (2007), men’s soccer (2008), men’s tennis (2009), women’s golf (2012), men’s golf (2013) and softball (2013).
Nevins, Medina lead softball
USF softball senior LHP Sara Nevins was named AAC pitcher of the week for a conference-leading fifth time. She won all three games for the Bulls (33-13, 7-5) in a road sweep of AAC-leading Houston (28-15, 11-4), collecting her 93rd career victory to pass assistant coach Monica Triner for the top spot on USF’s all-time list. Nevins allowed two runs in 15 innings, striking out 12 with a 0.93 ERA.
Senior 1B Stephanie Medina was named to the AAC honor roll with four RBIs and a .545 on-base percentage.
Ken Eriksen’s Bulls have their final regular-season home games this weekend against Memphis (Saturday double-header, 1 p.m. and 3:15; Sunday, 11 a.m.).
USF football has openings in its schedule for 2015 and 2016. Indiana University exercised its buyout option, paying $500,000 to USF to pull out of a home-and-home series and instead scheduling Florida International University. …Three men’s basketball assistants were hired by new head coach Orlando Antigua – Rod Strickland ($175,000 annual salary), Oliver Antigua ($155,000) and Jerry McCullough ($80,000) – leaving $290,000 in the first-year $700,000 pool for assistant coaching salaries and program support. …Steve Roccaforte, a member of Stan Heath’s USF staff for three seasons, was hired as an assistant coach for Buzz Williams at Virginia Tech. …Former Bulls guard Andrell Smith joined the University of Tampa’s women’s basketball program as an assistant coach. …Arden Robbins, chief revenue officer of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, was named general manager of USF IMG Sports Marketing, which handles multimedia and sponsorship rights for USF athletics.